Department of Social Anthropology

NEW BOOK: Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology

Professor Bruce Kapferer, at the Egalitarianism project and Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos from the University of Kent, have recently published a new edited book.

Against exoticism
Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology
Berghahn Books

Main content

The book addresses major issues within Anthropology. To quote the blurb:

"Anthropology begins in the encounter with the 'exotic': what stands outside of-and challenges-conventional or established understandings.

This volume confronts the distortions of orientalism, ethnocentrism, and romantic nostalgia to expose exoticism, defined as the construction of false and unsubstantiated difference. Its aim is to re-found the importance of the exotic in the development of anthropological knowledge and to overcome methodological dualisms and dualistic approaches.

Chapters look at the risk of exoticism in the perspectivist approach, the significant exotic corrective of Lévi-Strauss vis-à-vis an imperializing Eurocentrism, our nostalgic relationship with the ethnographic record, and the attempts of local communities to readapt previous exoticized referents, renegotiate their identity, and 'counter-exoticize.'

This volume demonstrates a range of approaches that will be valuable for researchers and students seeking to effectively establish comparative methodological frameworks that transcend issues of relativism and universalism”. 


Introdcution Bruce Kapferer and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Chapter 1 Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, On Ethnographic Nostalgia: Exoticizing and De-exoticizing the Emberá

Chapter 2 Pnina Werbner, Between Triste Tropique and Cultural Creativity: Modern Times and the Vanishing Primitive

Chapter 3 Stephen Nugent, The Exotic Albatross: Exotic Indians, Exotic Theory

Chapter 4 Maurice Said, Living the Li(f)e: Negotiating Paradise in Southern Sri Lanka

Chapter 5 Theodora Lefkaditou, Bahia of All Saints, Enchantments and Dreams: Female Tourists, Capoeira Practitioners, and The Exotic

Chapter 6 Urmi Bhattacharyya, From Primitive to Culturally Distinct: Patachitra Art and Self-Exoticization in West Bengal

Afterword Bruce Kapferer and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

The book can be found at Berghahn Books and at Amazon and it is possible to download the introduction as well.